Open for business

Amanda and Gina with Branded meals ready to be delivered. 207061 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Jed Lanyon

As events are cancelled and businesses close due to Covid-19, some are trying to make the most of a difficult situation.

Yarra Ranges businesses are thinking of new ways to keep functioning, despite having to close doors and lay off staff, while events are creating unique ways to still go ahead.

Seville’s Branded Burgers and Bar transformed their restaurant around the new takeaway only rules, allowing locals to pick up their burgers, while moving to a ’zero contact’ delivery service.

The burger restaurant also obtained a delivery liquor license allowing locals to receive alcohol to accompany their burgers.

Branded Burgers and Bar co-owner Gina said: “When you have your doors shut to the public you have to pivot, you have to think, ‘what am I going to do next?’ And we already had an ideal model of takeaway food.

“Our cooks and bar staff are now delivery drivers. We were able to keep them in employment and keep it all going.”

Burgers are now being delivered as far as Launching Place, Yellingbo, Wandin North and Mount Evelyn.

Gina has a simple message for the Yarra Valley community to shop local and support small businesses.

“The sad thing is that a percentage of small businesses will not survive this. As a community we need to rally together and do what we can.

“It’s not about Branded anymore or the food we put out. It’s about being there for the community and doing what we can to support each other.”

And those aren’t just empty words from the business owner as the burger bar took to social media to highlight a range of other businesses in Seville. While they also bulk ordered food from their supplier and sold them at cost price to those in need in the community.

Other businesses, such as Healesville Hotel, have opened up a drive-through service to allow their customers to enjoy takeaway, booze, coffee and nibbles without ever leaving their car.

Seville Estate is still providing delicious chef cooked meals through delivery or pickup. They even provide recipe cards so you can finish the dish yourself, matching it with a selection of wine.

While Healesville’s Innocent Bystander has gone virtual, allowing customers to experience the Innocent Bystander Cellar Door, live from anywhere in Australia plus providing wine orders in advance.

Sanders Orchard in Three Bridges recently went ahead with an apple picking day on the weekend of 21-22 March.

The Sanders family took additional measures to ensure the health and safety of guests by opening additional picking rows to allow guests to spread out, while also reducing the number of guests per tractor ride. This allowed more visitors to celebrate the start of the apple season and allowed them to grab some juicy Kanzi apples.

While many local events were forced to postpone, organisers of the Yarra Valley Writers Festival announced on 18 March that the event will still take place, but through a live stream.

The inaugural event was set to run in Healesville from 8-10 May. Instead, it will now feature a full day of streamed talks, conversations and performances on 9 May.

Programmed by playwright Hannie Rayson, the festival will present contemporary authors but in a digital format.

“The way audiences experience art, culture and conversations has changed. For now,” she said.

“This is the time to be supporting Australian authors and celebrate writers who are prepared to challenge, enlarge and humanise our experience of the world.”

Current ticket holders will be contacted by Yarra Ranges Council to refund purchases while there will still be a small charge for the online viewing to help pay authors, technicians and performers.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced that all non-essential activity across the state will shut from 24 March to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Businesses that will close due to the Stage 1 shutdown include pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, and licensed venues in hotels and pubs. It also includes gyms, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, cinemas and entertainment venues.

Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services.

The State Government also announced a $1.7 billion economic survival and jobs package on 21 March which is set to help businesses and workers survive the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Government will inject a further $66 billion into the economy to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus, on top of its initial economic stimulus package of $17.6 billion.

Branded Burgers and Bar still have leftover food supplies that can be accessed for local residents. Contact 5964 2148 for more information.

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